Malaysian-born Bakri Musa writes frequently on issues affecting his native land. His essays have appeared in the Far Eastern Economic Review, Asiaweek, International Herald Tribune, Education Quarterly, SIngapore's Straits Times, and The New Straits Times. His commentary has aired on National Public Radio's Marketplace. His regular column Seeing It My Way appears in Malaysiakini. Bakri is also a regular contributor to th eSun (Malaysia).
He has previously written "The Malay Dilemma Revisited: Race Dynamics in Modern Malaysia" as well as "Malaysia in the Era of Globalization," "An Education System Worthy of Malaysia," "Seeing Malaysia My Way," and "With Love, From Malaysia."
Bakri's day job (and frequently night time too!) is as a surgeon in private practice in Silicon Valley, California. He and his wife Karen live on a ranch in Morgan Hill.
This website is updated twice a week on Sundays and Wednesdays at 5 PM California time.
smooth assimilation of Malays into Islam was the result of both
“down-up” and “up-down” dynamics. The average Malay peasant in his or
her interactions with the ancient Muslim traders saw the value of this
new faith. This message then spread laterally among the other villagers
and later upwards to the nobility and ultimately the sultans. They too
saw the merit of this new religion and that acceptance trickled down to
the masses. The result was the quick transformation of Malay society.
Today in the retelling of the arrival of Islam to the Malay world,
there is not a dissenting voice. All agree that it was a positive
development, for the faith as well as for Malays. We also agree that our
culture adapted well to Islam.
Those sentiments have more to do with the human tendency to romanticize
the past, especially one perceived as being glorious, rather than a
true reflection of the reality. We spare ourselves from looking more
critically at our past for fear that we would discover something that
could blight that pristine image and sweet memory.
Yet in all human endeavors nothing is pure white or all black. The
noblest deeds often have a sliver of tarnish if we were meticulous and
fearless in our scrutiny. At the other extreme, even in the horror and
depravity of a Siberian prison camp one could still discern sparks of
compassion and humanity, as Dostoyevsky noted in his House of the Dead.
So it was with the coming of Islam to the Malay world. Those early
Muslims came not to proselytize, though that was a well-established
tradition with the faith, rather to trade. In that respect those Arab
and Indian Muslim traders were no different from the subsequent European
explorers who came for our spices.
natives were so enamored with the way those Muslim traders conducted
themselves – with honor, piety and honesty – that soon their ways rubbed
off on our ancestors and they too became Muslims. They, as a culture
and community, were free minded enough to recognize a better way and did
not hesitate to incorporate it as part of their own.
Our ancestors were enthusiastic converts. They willingly absorbed this
new faith based on its evident merit, and did so with an open mind. They
accepted its teachings with complete trust.
They could not however, claim to be diligent learners. If they were,
they would have discovered a much bigger and richer dimension to Islam
beyond the spiritual and metaphysical. After all this great faith had
emancipated the ancient Bedouins and caused them to give up the more
gruesome aspects of their culture like female infanticide and the
utterly destructive “eye for an eye” sense of justice.
Our forefathers would have also discovered the rich and varied
intellectual traditions of this great faith, from the rationalist
Mutazilites to the mystical Sufis. Islam, far from being a rigid and
uncompromising faith, is malleable and adaptive, which explained its
remarkable vibrancy and tolerance as demonstrated in such disparate
places as South Asia and Iberian Europe.
Those Arabs and Indians came to the Malay world in search of trade.
Spreading their faith was secondary, if at all, and only in so far as it
would facilitate their trading. The primary pursuit of all traders was
their customers’ satisfaction, not salvation. Traders want their
customers to return. Whether they would end up in heaven or hell is of
little interest to those traders.
Our ancestors missed this important but subtle point. They were so
obsessed with their fate in the Hereafter that they missed learning the
equally important but worldly trading activities of those earlier Arabs
and Indians. Our forefathers forgot or failed to discern the elementary
Islamic principle that our religious and worldly obligations were (still
are) related if not the same. Earning a living, as with trading, and
serving the needs of your fellow human beings, also a function of
trading, are but part and parcel of ibadah (worshiping).
Serve your fellow man and you serve God, exhorted our Prophet Mohammad
(May Allah be pleased with him). That's what trading does. The prophet
was himself a trader; he explicitly permitted and indeed encouraged
trading even during the Hajj to reinforce the point that earning a
living and worshiping Allah are but two sides of the same coin. Both are
far from being incompatible.
Thus while our ancestors learned much about Islam as a theology, they
failed to acquire the skills of trading from those Muslim traders. Then
consider the books that were translated. They were heavy on legends and
the spiritual aspects of Islam but precious few on trade, financing, and
the setting up of enterprises. Even on the theological aspects of
Islam, our ancestors restricted themselves to learning only a very
narrow interpretation of a particular fiqh (school of thought).
Our ancestors were not at all curious of the vast richness of the
intellectual heritage of Islam. Had they been, our ancestors would have
learned that those ancient Muslim luminaries beginning with Al Kindi and
on to Ibn Khaldun a few centuries later also wrote on such worldly
topics as astronomy, physics, medicine and sociology. To them, knowledge
was all encompassing, with no artificial differentiation between the
spiritual and secular, or worldly and "other-worldly."
Our sultans too were not diligent learners. Otherwise they would have
discovered that the Caliphs of the Abbasid dynasty, for example, had
their Bayt al-Hikma (House of Wisdom) where they gathered the leading
scholars and learn from them. Instead, our sultans of yore (and even
today) were content to be in the company of their gundek (concubines).
Malay society did benefit in one significant area. As Syed Naguib
al-Attas noted, “… [T]he most important single cultural phenomenon
directly caused by the influence of Islamic culture … was the spread and
development of Malay language as a vehicle not only for epic, romantic
and historical literature, but even more so for philosophical
discourse.” This was one of the paramount factors that displaced the
hegemony of Java in the region, Al Attas concluded.
With the adoption of the Arabic jawi
script, Malay culture transited from the oral to the written tradition.
Whenever that happens to a society or culture, it is a significant
advancement. We are indebted to those ancient Muslims for that precious
This unwillingness of our ancestors to learn about Islam beyond the
theological carried a heavy price. We did not benefit as greatly as we
should have from this encounter with Islam.
ancestors been more encompassing in exploring the vastness of the
intellectual and other traditions of the Arabs and of Islam, as those
folks in Iberia did, and studied the varied richness of this new faith,
its tradition of hosting a wide spectrum of opinions and its great
scholars, we could have triggered our own renaissance, our own Nusantara
(Malay Archipelago) Andalusia as it were, in the fine tradition of the
We could have then, like those ancient
Arabs who learned prodigiously from the Greeks, do likewise with the
Arabs. Those early Arabs (unlike their modern counterparts) had no
hesitation in translating Greek works and learning from Greek
philosophers, even avowedly atheistic ones.
Instead our ancestors were content with being ardent but passive
followers rather than engaged and active contributors. Had they done
more of the latter, there would be no limits to the height of our
achievement while at the same time enriching this great faith. Instead
they were satisfied with being merely takers and followers; they did not
contribute to nor enrich the faith.
Medieval Europe discovered Islam through Andalusia only a few centuries
before the faith landed in the Malay world. Unlike Malays who were
interested only in the spiritual aspects of the faith and perhaps some
accompanying philosophy and literature, the Europeans were interested in
everything the ancient Iberian Muslims had to offer, especially their
sciences and mathematics. And those early Muslims had much to offer in
The subsequent European Renaissance and the continent’s exit from its
medieval culture owed much to the contributions of those early Muslims.
Yes, the Europeans also translated the Koran and the various religious
treatises of ancient Muslim scholars, but unlike those in the sciences,
mathematics and philosophy, they were done less for learning but more
for demonstrating the “superiority” of Christianity and to “protect” the
flock from an alien faith. Thus the ensuing translations were clearly
jaundiced, presumably to spare the Europeans from yet another
Imagine the intellectual emancipation of Malay society had our
ancestors been more diligent in learning from those ancient Arabs the
full breadth of the intellectual endeavors of Islam beyond merely the
religious, and translated the great mathematical and scientific texts of
the ancient Arabs as those Middle Ages Europeans did! Our society
could have gone on to make our own unique contributions and trigger our
own Nusantara Renaissance.
Even to this day while we have an abundance of Malay translations of
religious texts and Arabic legends, no one has yet seen fit to translate
such seminal tomes as Ibn Khaldun’s Muqaddimmah (An Introduction [to the study of History]), Ibn Rashid’s Kulliyat (Generalities [of medicine]), or al-Khwarizmi’s treatise on Algebra.
While Middle Age Europe eagerly learned from Andalusia, the Europeans
did not become Muslims. Only a few centuries later, Malays became Muslim
through their encounter with those Muslim traders but we did not learn
much from them. This irony, as yet unexamined, baffles me.
It is this myopic take on Islam that prevents Malays from fully
benefiting from this great faith. Like monkeys, we are content only with
imitating, and then only the superficialities of the faith and the
trappings of Arab culture while missing the core or essence. That was
true then and it is still true today.
Next: European Intrusion Into The Malay World
This essay is adapted from the author's latest book, Liberating The Malay Mind, published by ZI Publications Sdn Bhd, Petaling Jaya, 2013.
The arrival of Islam was “the most momentous event in the history of the Malay archipelago,” to quote Syed Naquib al-Attas. It came not through the point of the sword but peacefully through trade. Islam did not land in a cultural and religious vacuum as Malays were already steeped in Hindu and animist traditions. Nor did the Arabs come to emancipate our ancestors; there was no messianic zeal or even an inclination to engage in their salvation.
Those Muslims came only to trade; there was no intention to dominate or colonize. Their Islamic faith and the prevailing Malay culture interacted through gradual and mutual accommodation. The result was that “the local genius of the people shone through” in the melding of the two, to quote Farish Noor, respected scholar and frequent commentator on Malaysian affairs.
This was vividly illustrated with my matriarchal Adat Perpateh. It coexisted peacefully with traditional male-dominated Islam, demonstrating a brilliant and workable synthesis of the two. Malays did not repudiate our traditional ways to become Muslims, and Islam was not adulterated to accommodate Malay culture. Both were remarkably malleable to and adaptive of each other.
This accommodative attitude is best captured by the Minangkabau wisdom, Adat menurun, syarak mendaki (‘custom descended, religion ascended’), in reference to the belief that the Minangkabau descended from the highlands, the heartland of the culture, to meet Islam as it ascended from the coast. Both Islam and Malay were elevated as a consequence of the melding.
Expressions like Adat basandi syarak, syarak basandi kitabullah (Customs based on shari’a; shari’a on Koran), and the more practical, Syarak mengato, adat memakai (Sharia prescribes, adat subscribes) attest to this grand accommodation. The sociologist Taufik Abdullah expressed it best, “The genius of Minangkabau is to synthesize contradictions harmoniously.” There were certainly contradictions real as well as imagined between Islam and traditional Malay culture, but our ancestors took them in stride and with composure.
It is said that a Minangkabau baby is fed white rice and red chili early so it could learn at a very young age to tolerate opposites. Later we would go beyond mere tolerating to actually relishing contradictions. Thus as adults we could not do without our rice and sambal (chili paste).
Of course all these happened several centuries ago, long before the advent of “purist” Islamists. Today these purists would condemn any accommodation of the faith as bida’a (adulteration). Little wonder that Malays of that religious persuasion are today busy rewriting history to obliterate our legitimate pre-Islamic existence. They would like us to believe that prior to the arrival of Islam, Malays were cultureless and devoid of any spiritual values, and that our history began only with the arrival of Islam.
Thus instead of learning and benefiting from the wisdom and ingenuity of our ancestors in synthesizing contradictions harmoniously, these later-day Islamists are obsessed with “purifying” and "cleansing" our faith of what they deem to be “un-Islamic” and “primitive” elements.
These purists obviously have not learned anything from our recent history. They should remember that the last time this “cleansing” effort took place it triggered the Padri War from 1821-37 in West Sumatra. That conflict succeeded only in further tightening of Dutch colonial rule.
Today there is little risk that the Malay world would ever be colonized again, our leaders’ fear of neo-colonization notwithstanding. Colonialism is no longer cool, except in such odd places like Chechnya and Tibet. However there is a fate far worse than being colonized, and that is being left behind by a rapidly modernizing world.
This preoccupation with Islamic “cleansing” distracts Malays, especially the idealistic younger set looking for a cause and meaning to their life, from making their rightful contributions to society. It is far too easy for their religious zeal to degenerate into something sinister, as with futile “jihads” against phantom enemies of Islam.
A notorious and tragic example was the “Bali bomber,” Dr. Azahari Husin. Smart enough to be the top student at Malay College, Kuala Kangsar, he was later selected to pursue his engineering degree in Australia and subsequently, doctoral work in Britain.
By all accounts he was a competent academic and an inspiring teacher. He could have made a significant contribution by training future engineers, quite apart from being a much-needed role model especially for young Malays. Somewhere along the line he acquired a zeal for “purifying” the faith. Instead of making a meaningful contribution, he ended up leaving behind a trail of death and destruction. A needless tragedy, for him, his family, and society!
At the community level, this increased emphasis in religion has resulted in, among other things, our national schools taking on all the trappings of a religious institution. As a result non-Muslims are abandoning the system in droves making these schools all the more insular. Malays too are abandoning the system but for the very opposite reason – these schools are deemed not religious enough! As a consequence religious schools now mushroom all over the country.
Unlike religious schools in America, those in Malaysia are heavy into religion, paying lip service to such important but deemed “secular subjects” as science and mathematics. Then we wonder why local companies cannot get enough qualified Malay applicants.
This emphasis on religion has resulted in the massive expansion of the bureaucracy associated with Islam just to employ these otherwise unemployable Malay graduates. This further encourages Malays to enroll in religious schools, feeding this non-productive cycle. Today thousands of Malay talents are diverted not in producing something for the economy but in the destructive pursuit of keeping citizens along the “straight and narrow path,” as these zealots see it.
If this were to continue, we could expect a modern version of the Padri War, with the Malay community in conflict with each other and be left behind. This time there would be no outside force coming to mediate or rescue us; we would be left destroying each other while the world bypassed us.
The need for Malays and Muslims today is not to further divide us by heaping useless labels as liberal or conservative Muslims, or needlessly dividing us into tudung-clad versus the well-coiffured. As so eloquently stated in the Koran, true piety lies not in turning your face to the east or west (as in praying) rather one who spends his substance on his kin, the orphans, the needy, and the wayfarer.
In order to do that we first must have the substance, that is, be productive. This obsession with the external manifestations of our faith distracts us from being so and thus contributing to the betterment of our society.
Adapted from the author’s latest book, Liberating The Malay Mind, ZI Publications Sdn Bhd, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia , 2013.
true measure of a culture is how well it prepares its members to sudden
changes and challenges, especially when those are unanticipated or
imposed from the outside. That different societies react very
differently is obvious.
Consider the March 2011 tsunami
that demolished the coastal areas of Northern Japan. Thousands were
killed and billions worth of properties damaged, with whole villages and
families wiped out. Compare the reactions of the Japanese to that
tragedy of August 2005 when Katrina hurricane devastated the southern
coast of United States.
The differences in reactions
could not be more profound. Today only a few years after the tragedy,
Northern Japan is almost fully recovered. In Louisiana they are still
entangled in massive lawsuits, and the finger pointing has not yet
stopped. Both Japan and America are developed societies, so we cannot
account the difference to socioeconomic status, only to culture.
Then there was the Southeast Asian tsunami of Christmas 2004 that
devastated western Sumatra and elsewhere. In terms of human toll, that
tragedy was a universe beyond Katrina.
relief workers involved in both tragedies observed how remarkably
quickly those Indonesians resumed their "normal" routine. When hundreds
of thousands of your countrymen had perished and whole towns and
villages vanished, swept into the deep blue Indian Ocean, normalcy is
hard to fathom. "Normal" is not quite the appropriate term. Nonetheless
only a few months after the tragedy, school children were resuming their
classes and singing their national anthem as they gathered underneath
the shade of the lone surviving angsana tree.
expect that to happen in America, a nation with vastly greater resources
and much superior manpower and administrative machinery at its
disposal, not Indonesia. Yes, America's industrial might was able to
produce hundreds of portable homes and classrooms on short order, alas
they were left sitting on empty lots to this day. The displaced
residents are still unable to return home.
Again, only culture can explain the difference in the two reactions.
The Southeast Asian tsunami was also instrumental in ending the
generations-long Aceh civil war. The iconic image of the tsunami
devastation was the lone mosque that stood serenely in a sea of
destruction. The sophisticated would attribute the catastrophe to shifts
in ancient tectonic plates in the deep ocean floor, but to the
science-illiterate Indonesians it was Allah sending them a powerful
message. The Aceh civil war ended soon after.
the supreme value of a culture; to help us react in positive ways to
events that are beyond our control. That is the only true measure of a
Today in discussions on the "Malay problem,"
specifically the lack of economic development, much is made of the
supposed deficiencies of our culture. To me that is not a valid measure
of the value of a culture. America is the most economically and socially
developed society on Earth, yet it could not handle the Katrina
tragedy. We have to stop blaming culture as the explanation for
everything especially when we are having glaring deficits elsewhere, as
with our corrupt and incompetent leaders.
there are just too many and obvious examples to debunk such a simplistic
"explanation" as culture. Consider the Koreans. Those in North Korea
share the same culture (including religion and language) as their
brethren in the South. Today those two societies and countries could not
be more different not only socio-economically and but also in mindset
and many other ways.
Incidentally, the Koreans would
serve as a ready example to debunk those who would resort to blaming our
"genes" or biology to explain our backwardness, the pet "explanation"
offered by the likes of Mahathir.
Then there is the
current fascination and exaltation of Confucian ethics and system of
values to "explain" the rapid rise of East Asia, first with Japan and
later South Korea. What is conveniently forgotten is that this same
culture was responsible for the monumental tragedies on the Chinese
mainland during much of the 20th Century, and the militaristic rise of
Japan and the consequent catastrophe inflicted on much of Asia during
World War II.
So quit blaming culture to "explain"
Malay backwardness. As a mental exercise, imagine if Malay leaders
(specifically those in UMNO as they have been in charge for over half a
century) are not corrupt, and all the funds and resources that they have
hogged unto themselves had been spent on improving our lot as with
building better schools and having properly trained teachers and
professors, we would be much better off today. We would also be spared
those sordid financial scandals, from the Bank Bumiputra debacle of yore
to the current 1MDB mess.
Consider the opportunity cost of the current RM2 billion "donation" to
Prime Minister Najib Razak. Had he spent that money to endow a
university in honor of his late father in the fashion of the
industrialist James Buchanan Duke (Duke University), imagine the good
that would do to Malaysia. For one, the Razak name would forever be held
in high esteem for not only being an exemplary leader of the country
but also for producing a son with such farsightedness and philanthropy.
For another, Najib would have been spared the current humiliation of
just another corrupt Third World leader who could be bought with a mere
billion or two in devalued Malaysian ringgit.
At another level, if only Malaysian leaders had been a wee bit
competent in addition to being honest, there would be no limit to the
This week, Najib and his wife were guests at Singapore's 50th
anniversary. When Tun Razak and the senior Lee were Prime Ministers of
their respective nations, the ringgit and Singapore dollar were on par
in value. Today with their sons in charge, the ringgit has fallen to a
third of the Singapore dollar, and continues to fall.
The devaluation of the ringgit is at least quantifiable, not so the devaluation of the nation's maruah( respect).
Getting honest and competent leaders has nothing to do with culture.
Nor are you born corrupt or incompetent; rather you become one.
There is yet another reason to be weary of those who resort to blaming
culture to "explain" everything about a society. Strip off the sophistry
and the underlying racism is exposed in all its ugliness.
In the following few chapters I will recap the three defining moments
in Malay culture: the arrival of Islam upon our shores, the subsequent
series of European intrusions into our world, and the path we had chosen
towards independence. I will examine how our culture had prepared us
for those tumultuous changes. As is apparent we are still here, and that
says something about the value and endurance of our culture. In the
final analysis that is what counts; all else are but footnotes.
There are critical and valuable lessons to be learned from those
transformational experiences that are applicable to our current
Adapted from the author's latest book, Liberating The Malay Mind, ZI Publications Sdn Bhd, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia , 2013.
Next Excerpt: Arrival of Islam as a Momentous Event in Malay Culture
Labu and Labi, the two bumbling idiots in P. Ramlee’s 1962 comedy movie of the
have a political version of that duo. With the latest cabinet reshuffle, Labi
is gone. Next should be Labu, aka
Najib Razak. The leadership of Malaysia is too important to be entrusted to
In a twist
of irony, this latest exercise eases the process. By firing his deputy, Najib
has set an important precedent – decoupling cabinet positions from party
leadership. It has been the tradition, and only that as it is unsupported by
the constitution, that leaders of the ruling party should also lead the
someone other than the party’s deputy leader be the Deputy Prime Minister, that
sets the stage whereby the Prime Minister too could be someone other than the
party’s President. That is the only silver lining to this latest reshuffle.
That excepted, Najib’s new cabinet remains a yawner. The elusive “wow” factor
still eludes him.
his new ministers Najib is taken in by the glint of pebbles, confusing that for
the sparkle of diamonds, or in kampong expression, pasir berkilau disangkakan intan. No surprise there as Najib
himself is a pebble. He values loyalty over smarts, pebbles over diamonds.
Expect Malaysia to be continually grinded down.
minister gushed that she knew of her appointment through the radio! Obviously
Najib had not vetted her. Even a housewife is more careful in picking her kangkung.
appointees were so eager that they were oblivious of the darkening clouds
hovering over their leader, desperate as they are for personal advancement. May
they be struck by the same lightning and be drenched in the downpour. Spare
Malaysia their personal ethics and pebble-stone quality.
“promoting” four members of the parliamentary committee investigating 1MDB,
Najib tried to sidetrack and emasculate that committee. I would have thought
that completing a crucial national investigation would be the committee’s
highest priority and patriotic mission, as its chairman had earlier professed
and promised. As I said, these characters are pebbles, not diamonds.
thinks that he would stymie the investigation, he is mistaken. Already the
deputy chairman has vowed to continue. Now the committee has more opposition
members, including its vice-chairman. Najib may rue his “brilliance!”
Muhyiddin No Hero
Muhyiddin’s protestation over 1MDB was neither forceful nor
strategic in content, setting, or timing, despite the hullabaloo it triggered.
His mild and belated attempt at being a Hang Jebat after over six years as a
compliant sidekick a la Hang Tuah was
awkward. It was, to borrow his phrase, “lebih
daripada meluat” (beyond nauseating).
because it was self-serving. Consider the content. “I told him [Najib] to let
go of his post in 1MDB, but he didn’t want to listen!” protested poor
Muhyiddin. Imagine had he said, “I could not get an unequivocal denial from the
Prime Minister! On the contrary he admitted to having that account!”
Muhyiddin’s retelling, he is “the first minister to take a stand on 1MDB.” He
bragged about being vocal in cabinet and UMNO Supreme Council meetings. Then he
complained that he and his cabinet and Supreme Council members had been kept in
have it both ways. A cabinet as well as Supreme Council colleague rebuked
Muhyiddin, noting that he had chaired some of those meetings.
too was inappropriate. Muhyiddin should have picked a more influential audience
as in a formal press conference preferably with foreign correspondents present,
not his party’s divisional meeting. He could have then answered the inevitable
As for the
timing, imagine if Muhyiddin had also submitted his resignation. His stock
would have soared. By letting himself to be sacked, Muhyiddin’s subsequent
ranting was seen more as the whining of an ex-wife about her former husband.
Worse, it made Najib look strong. Now that
took some doing!
did better in his later press conference. Although it was somewhat chaotic,
nonetheless he exuded great confidence, a portrait not of a man who had been
fired rather one who had had a great burden lifted off his broad shoulders. One
wonders what is that great burden!
have appeared more in command had he dispensed with the prop of his wife beside
him and the throngs of hangers-on behind. You do not have to major in theater
to appreciate these subtleties of effective stage presentation.
Muhyiddin’s account, it was Najib who was weak. Muhyiddin had to prod Najib as
he could not utter the words to fire Muhyiddin to his face. Najib merely
nodded. There was no “you are fired” Donald Trump-style. If Najib could not
handle his deputy one-on-one, I wonder how he would fare with world leaders.
should have given his press conference first instead of that speech at the
divisional meeting. The latter was more a sly maneuver to “suck up” to
was instrumental in Najib and Abdullah becoming Prime Ministers. Muhyiddin was
trying to ingratiate himself to Mahathir in the hope of becoming his third dud
should not let that happen. Yes, Mahathir successfully undid his first mistake
and is now desperate to undo his second, with no sign of success in sight. If
Mahathir again prevails, Malaysians should be grateful but not let him have
this third pick. Malaysia has had enough of his mistakes.
is no hero. This is the Minister of Education who claimed that our schools and
universities are the best. He could not be more wrong if he thinks the current
outpouring of support he gets in the social media is an endorsement of his
performance. Those are more expressions of citizens’ disgust with Najib, a variation
of the enemy-of-your-enemy-is-my-friend dynamics.
Getting Labu Out
With Labi out, getting rid of Labu should now be easier.
With 1MDB short of cash, bribing and influencing potential rebellious
politicians would be that much more difficult. Nonetheless there are still
other tools of persuasion, as Najib demonstrated with his latest cabinet
like cash, are finite. There are just not enough cabinet slots or lucrative GLC
directorships to accommodate all UMNO MPs and the many more avaricious local
warlords, not counting those MPs from Barisan’s other component parties. Those
from Sarawak and Sabah are “fixed deposits” only if their “inducements” keep
is from Johore, where UMNO began. Without inducements it would be difficult for
him to keep his supporters there and elsewhere in tow. He is also no Tenkgu
Razaleigh or Anwar Ibrahim. The chance of another Semangat 46 or Keadilan
emerging to challenge UMNO and Najib is slim.
firing, cabinet reshuffle, “promotions” of parliamentary investigating
committee members, “retirement” of Attorney-General Gani Patail, and the
spectacular arrests of supposed “leakers” are all deliberate distractions.
There would be no “leakers” had no crime been committed. They are arresting the
good guys while the bad ones are running free.
question remains. Did Najib Razak siphon funds into his personal account?
failed in their attempts at denials, Najib’s pebble boys and girls are
desperate for novel spins, the latest being “political donations” and “trust
accounts.” I shudder to think that foreigners are buying our elections. What
would these pebble-brains think of next? Najib had a royal flush in Vegas?
these new distractions. The greatest challenge remains to get the truth on 1MDB
out and the culprits brought to justice. That should be the duty and priority,
ahead of personal interests and loyalty to individuals or party.